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Monday, January 9, 2017

Medical students need to learn the potent medicine of empathy

By Wolfgang Gilliar
Originally published September 29, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

How does empathy do this? A patient who feels emotionally connected to his or her doctor is more likely to disclose important medical information and to follow the doctor’s advice. That connection can serve as the basis for true teamwork, with the patient working proactively with the medical team to improve health. Simply put, patients who feel cared about feel better and do better.

There’s also great promise in osteopathic medicine, which couples traditional medical interventions with skilled, specialized, hands-on treatments for the body’s complex system of nerves, muscles, and bones. “Healing touch” isn’t just a metaphor. This simple physical action evokes trust in patients.

Without empathy, doctors run the risk of alienating their patients. The relationship can become one-sided, with the physician simply dictating treatments and the patient following orders. Core emotional needs can be ignored, leading patients to feel lonely and downtrodden. And that deterioration of mood can make it less likely that they will experience positive outcomes from treatment.

The article is here.